No degree?

Gents, this is my first post on this site so please play nice.

I am 22 years old and am wanting to join as an officer. I left university after three months and have been working full time since. I was studying sports science but it was not my own choice. I was pushed into uni as I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life at the time.

I have worked mainly in hospitality since in some junior management roles but I need something more.

Will my lack of degree be an issue. I am looking into the Intelligence Corps or possibly the Rifles.
It'll make a difference to what you get paid!!

I would think unless you are multi-lingual then your chances with Intelligence Corps are limited. Rifles probably a better option, but this can be discussed with your recruitment officer.

I can see a problem in that you won't get accelerated advancement as a graduate, and as you're not joining at 19/20, you will probably end up slightly behind other officers of the same age who either joined earlier without a degree, or at the same age, but with a degree - if that makes any sense.

Other than that, i think it will be problem if you develop a complex and consider yourself inferior for not having one, but not if you ignore it and just get on with the job and do the best you possibly can. I imagine you will probably have a better work ethic than a fresh graduate, as you will have more real job experience, but may not be as used to the social element...

If i was you i'd be aware of the draw backs with slower promotion initially and lower wages, and once you've accepted this, just get on with it and forget about it, because it doesn't really matter that much.
Yes I know what you mean about those without a degree being younger and those the same age as having a degree.

I don't think of myself as inferior for this though, in fact I see myself as having a couple more years experience dealing with and leading others. I don't know how much my previous work history comes into it?

I didn't realise being multi-lingual was that much of a deal for IntCorps. Especially for officer?

Is there anything else you may be able to suggest? I want something of a career but not necessarily a trade.

I realise pay and promotion could become an issue but no more of one than if I joined as a soldier and worked my way up.
To be honest, there are numerous people here with more experience than me and better able to answer your questions, and once they are awake i'm sure they will. I just wanted to post my opinion, and what i felt.

My understanding is that Int Corps take on very few officers each time and get to pick from a large number of applicants, and as such expect applicants to have skills such as languages already under their belts. I maybe wrong and someone will correct me if i am.

As to what go for - your local recruiting office can advise you best. You will get plenty of opportunity to see regiments and corps, so just take the opportunity and see which one you most like and feel would fit in with best, it may be Engineers, or it may be Infantry, or it may be Artillary - all quite different in many aspects, but i'd be happy in any of them...
Thank you for your help, just trying to get as much input as I can at this point.

(and yes I realise that this is a daft time to be posting )
No problems at all in joining at your age with no degree.

You would join as a non-graduate officer and in effect be 3 years junior to your (graduate) peers on commissioning.

When I went through Sandhurst there were a number of non-graduate OCdts of about your age. Some had been to university for a while and just not graduated, others had gone straight into work after school and others a combination.

As previously mentioned, the only downside is that you will be paid less and have less seniority than your graduate peers. However, in today's army if you are of the calibre required you will soon find yourself doing the same jobs as graduates (albeit potentially in acting rank), even after your first couple of years (during the first couple of years graduate and non-graduate officers generally do the same jobs anyway).


War Hero
No degree = no problems,

Non graduates have the same prospects as graduates (though promotion is slower at the bottom end of the ladder). I would not be overly concerned about promotion by the time you find yourself as a senior captain some of your peer group will have beiged (promoted to major) but the vast majority will still be at the same career point as you (some may well be behind you, i know i found that).

One thing i would suggest is to make sure your written english is bang on, because whether a graduate or not this is an area that is critiqued pretty hard especially if you are considering a career in the Int corps.
Thanks all for the feedback.

With regards to my written english I have A* Language and B Literature GCSE so hopefully that won't be a problem.

Is pay that drastically different? Not that it is my major concern.

Is Intelligence a realistic option without a degree? I was also told at my recruitment office that to be an officer in the Engineers I need a degree in Engineering.

Sorry to bombard you all with questions and hopefully I'm not repeating myself.
there are non grad Int corps officers, however i will say this, there work load in terms of written work can be very high, even if very interesting.


When I commissioned into the Int Corps, out of four of us from that intake, three were graduates. Even now, it isn't absolutely essential to have a degree as an Int Corps officer but it does act as an indicator towards intellectual attainment.

I think the general point on degrees is that they demonstrate that you should have the intellectual wherewithal to succeed as an army officer. They certainly aren't essential but I would suggest that they are becoming more desirable as much of an officer's professional development is within an academic framework.

For a non-grad in his or her early to mid-20s and older, I doubt there would be much value from trying to get a degree if they hadn't started already, but anyone younger should really put their nose to the grindstone and get on and do it.
t_hedgehog said:
Thanks all for the feedback.

With regards to my written english I have A* Language and B Literature GCSE so hopefully that won't be a problem.

Is pay that drastically different? Not that it is my major concern.

Is Intelligence a realistic option without a degree? I was also told at my recruitment office that to be an officer in the Engineers I need a degree in Engineering.

Sorry to bombard you all with questions and hopefully I'm not repeating myself.
In my final year in the army (before I went to university) I worked in the Officers Mess. One of the new troopies (an Engineer) was a non-graduate & he was in his late twenties - in fact, you could probably argue he was desperately clinging onto his twenties :D
Ok I was a non- degree (I had a HND) O/Cdt and went to RMAS at 24.

All was OK until it came to when I could get my major. (when going through RMAS it changed from ATOS to LTOS- Length of Time Served) and then it hit me. I had 1 years seniority so had 11 years till I could make major -LTOS now means 30% on first look.

Therefore to be a major on first look I would be 35. Then after ICSC and my black bag job I would not get sub unit command till about 38/39! ATOS i would have been a Lt.Col (If I had made it). When this lot dawned on me (discussing my career with the Dart Thrower from Manning and Records in sunny Glasgow) I had already done my senior Captains post and was off to RMAS as an instructor. I would have had to tread water for about another 6 years. Ok i could get my acting major but it does not change your seniority. So if I made Lt Col the cycle would start again.

So in conclusion yes join up, you will regret it of you don't but understand due to LTOS you might want to plan for a shorter career rather than life.
I remember 'Fara The Para' ranting,when The Parachute Regiment recruited their first degree holder.Rant went something like '' in battle bullets cannot tell the difference between a graduate and non graduate officer''
amazing__lobster said:
Is it possible for a non-graduate officer to do a part-time MSc (say with the OU) in two years and gain graduate status that way?
No the system is not that clever I am afraid or wasn't three years ago, and I doubt has changed.

The in service degrees are usually dished out to the very young (joined 18/19 years old type) and what happens to them after graduation I am not sure. However, I would doubt they back date their seniority.
Mr Hedgehog

Without debating the merits of grad or non grad entry to RMAS, the vast majority of Officer Cadets are graduates. It is accepted that they may not have read for the most challenging degrees and well done to them for playing the game (bitter engineering graduate).

You would do well to heed the advice offered by Pantsoff and take a longer view; consider what the impact of not having a degree will be, not only on a potential military career but also on your life after the army.

I don’t know you have previous relationship with the army, in my experiance those friends, who dropped out of their degrees and went to RMAS as non grads, had already been in CCF/Cadets or came from military families. They were engaged with the Regiments they wanted to join and in many cases had been on fam visits and were just eager to get on with it. Additionally it’s worth noting that I have met some very motivated officers who graduated following time spent in the ranks.

I would strongly recommend looking again at a degree and find something that you do want to do, as ever we excel at the things we enjoy. This would allow you look at joining an OTC or local TA unit, to gain more experience not only of the army, but also of the officer selection process and what being an officer actually means.

Finally I’m sure that you are aware what ever you decided to do, there remains the not inconsiderable hurdle of the AOSB to overcome, my only advice for that is consider the RMAS motto “serve to lead” and review your motivation wanting lead soldiers.



I think the issue is not so much about academic degrees themselves but about age, maturity and experience. I took over my first platoon as a 22 year old - after a gap year, a degree, Sandhurst and YOs training - and was dumbstruck by some of the problems I had to deal with. This was not really the military/tactical side of life (I was in NI) but more the welfare side: sorting out financial, family and personal problems for members of my platoon, a number of whom were a good deal older than I was. It was hard going with my meagre experience of the real world but I think it would have been immeasurably harder to do the job properly had I followed the path (which was still quite common then) of school, Sandhurst, commission at 19. Even then, it wasn't entirely uncommon for 19 year old 2Lts to get stuck with a crap job like assistant adjutant for a few months whilst the CO got their measure before giving them a platoon. My view is that it is important for potential officers to have at least some experience of taking responsibility for themselves for a few years, outside the discipline of family and school, before they attempt to take responsibility for others.

Secondly, anyone commissioning at 19 or 20 is inevitably going to be measured against peers who have commissioned at 22 or 23 and, unless they are exceptional, are likely to come off second best. Like it or not, the late teens and early twenties are a critical stage in the growing up process and I'd suggest that it is better to go through it before attempting to lead soldiers on operations.
You are an individual, age does not matter(either way) nor does having a degree, as long as you can prove yourself worthy of commissioning in the the Int Corps or any other.

Ive meet plenty of grads who are crap officers and no time at uni would have made them better!, and ive also meet loads of non grad crap officers! To be really honest the crap non grads tend to be the the uni drop outs, not the straight to sandhurst ones.

read the sticky on this as it will answer all your questions, but remember dont believe everything you read on ARRSE :roll:

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